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Dealing with challenging conversations at work

Employment  Law | Jersey Business Legal Services


The management of a business can often involve dealing with challenging employment situations within the workplace and as a business owner or manager, you may often feel under pressure from staff to resolve such issues instantly. It is important to handle these situations appropriately but be careful not to react on the spur of the moment: getting it wrong may lead to absence, decreased productivity  a grievance claim or even a constructive dismissal claim. On the other hand, get it right and everyone is happy.  It is important to consider various common scenarios in order to be prepared and able to control whatever situation comes your way.

A challenging conversation in the workplace is one where you have to manage emotions and information in a sensitive way in order to, for example:

  • address poor performance or conduct
  • deal with personal problems
  • investigate complaints
  • tackle personality clashes

It is human nature to feel a reluctance to get drawn into these type of emotive and awkward conversations, which are often concerning performance or conduct, even if it is undoubtedly part of your job.  However it is important to act objectively and promptly, as not to do so can lead the employee to think you are not interested or do not think there is a problem. In addition, denying the individual(s) concerned the opportunity to rectify the situation without further ado, can ultimately only cause a negative outcome, damaging the productivity of the business and lowering morale among staff who do not feel valued.

You can help make conversations with your employees less difficult by keeping in touch with your staff and having a quiet word at the first sign of any issue. It is far better, if possible, to nip problems in the bud rather than waiting for them to become more entrenched or complicated.

Many of the skills needed to manage difficult conversations involve dealing with an emotional or confrontational employee who may appear to be trying to unsettle or undermine you. You need to consider the way you communicate, ensure that you have the ability to maintain control of the meeting and that you are confident in your ability to handle the situation appropriately. None of this is easy and is learned through experience and training.


For advice, assistance or further information please do not hesitate to call 630530 or email us on EmploymentLawyers@parslowsjersey.com


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